Tips to Winning Bridge by Grant Baze
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Grant Baze was a world renowned professional bridge player from California.
Winner of many national tournaments and a true gentleman at the table.
A pleasure to play with and against.
He died in 2009 and is credited with many bridge axioms including the following:
"six - five come alive"
"the five level belongs to the opponents"
Here is some of his great advice
1. Your partner is your best friend.
Regard your partner with respect, affection, and tenderness. Remind
yourself that for the duration of the session your partner is your
best friend and that part of your responsibility is to make his
life and his decisions as easy as possible. Always root for
partner to do the right thing. If he misplays or miss guesses,
sympathize and console, he hurts worse than you. This will
enable a close approach to harmony with life and bridge.
2. Trumps speak.
If you have good trumps, especially unexpectedly good trumps,
you should strive to bid in any auction. Should I bid the
game or slam ? Should I take the push ? Should I take the
save ? Should I open the bidding ? Should I overcall ? In
close decisions, when you own good trump, the answer is "YES".
3. The 5-level belongs to the opponents.
Be very slow to possibly jeopardize the plus position you create
when you push the opponents to the five level. If the decision
is close whether to push on, double them, or pass, then you
should pass. If you push on or go for too much, or it is a
phantom, or if you double them and they make it, you have a
terrible result. if you double them and beat them one, you
may have gained little or nothing. if you pass in most cases
the worst that will happen to you is that you break even.
4. With 6-5 come alive.
Baze once said, "with 6-5, keep bidding until somebody doubles.
Either they double you, or your partner doubles them". Baze
meant this as an exaggeration, of course, to stress the
point that with huge distributional hands you bid a lot.
"BID THE FREAKS" should not be forgotten.
5. Three notrump ends all auctions.
In a decision auction, when one player bids 3NT, he is
saying his hand is more suitable for NT than suit play.
He has secondary values, a double stop in some worrisome
suit, no fit but much power, or whatever.
6. Aces, spaces, and His Majesty's faces.
The standard 4-3-2-1 point count is wrong.
It underestimates Aces, over emphasizes
everything else, and does not factor in spot cards.
An Ace represents power, not just trick-taking power,
but control power, tempo power and conjunctive power.
Depending on how many cards you have in the Ace-suit,
you can take the Ace whenever you want. The Ace stands
alone in its power, it does not need a companion card
or care about position.
A king has control power, tempo power, and conjunctive
power. Each of these powers is less than the power of an Ace.
The trick taking power of a king, however, may be worth nothing.
Without a companion card, the trick taking power of a King
may be strictly positional, and depend on the location of the Ace.
Queens and Jacks have no tempo power and at best third or fourth
round control power. Their primary power is conjunctive and, to
a lesser extent, positional.
1. Be slow to push opps out of 1NT if they are vul. Conversely, strain to
balance if they are non-vul.
2. With a known 29 points between you, consider 3NT, even if you have a
4-4 or 5-3 major fit. Playing matchpoints, of course.
3.Strain to make light one level overcalls with a suit that wants a lead.
AKxxx, or KQJxx with nothing else is fine at MP (not IMP),
providing your partner is aware that you may only have 6 or 7 points.
4. Strain to push your opps up or out of a 2H contract.
Usually them playing a 2H will be a bad board for you.
5. Be slow to make speculative (marginal) doubles of non-vul opps.
Beating them won't be worth the times they make it. But if
they are VUL, down one +200 is always a good result.
6. When you are sure your side has nine (9) trumps, generally
take the push to the 3 level, not expecting to make it,
but knowing they can make their 2-level bid.
7. If you know your side has 10 trumps save at the 4-level, non-vul vs vul.
If you suspect that your side has 11 trumps you can save at the
5-level safely, non-vul vs vul opps.
8. When opps play 3NT after an invitational sequence, unless you have a good
5-card suit to lead from, lead passively. If you lose a trick on the
opening lead, it may be their only way to make 9 tricks. Conversely,
if they appear to have bid strongly and have plenty of points,
you have to lead aggressively.
9. If 3NT is one of your options and your stopper is Ax, (with little
likely hood of partner having another high honour) 3NT is
probably not a good choice, unless you have 6 or 7 tricks
in a long suit you can run immediately.
10. A trump lead suggests that the side suits are not breaking.
(Apply this to your own leads. If you know that the side
suits are not breaking, lead a trump.)
11. Induce a cover if you can and are missing two honours (say king
and jack) by leading an honour.
12. When partner makes a balancing double in the passout seat,
bid a 4 card major if you have one over a 5 card minor, as
usually that is what partner is hoping you have.
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